Friday, January 9, 2009

Holiday Traveler Part 1-C: Gettin' To The 'Gettin' There

I guess I'd better close the book on this holiday traveling misadventure before it torments me into a whimpering puddle of goop!  I keep looking back at the first two stages of this fiasco and I shudder knowing the complete story has not been told.  Funny, I was quite sure I could share the fun in just one entry, and the backstory alone killed that hope!  How could I possible know, holed up in the middle of nowhere my whole life, that travel of this scope during this time would be such an enormous undertaking.  Three blog entries later, I think it is coming to me now!

And mind you, this is only the trip THERE...we still have the trip back to recap, too!  Grrr....  And, you will find as we soldier on that karma will play a key roll in some of the goings-on throughout this trek. 

So, when last we left our adventurers, they were ensconced in a motel in Charlotte, fearlessly marching on toward the final destination of 'home' for the holidays.  We had succumb to the weather, the airline, pets and kids, surcharges and a goegraphy-challenged cabbie.  Sounds like a banner day to me!

Well, we hung in at the hotel as long as allowed, knowing that our plane wasn't going to be leaving until mid afternoon at the earliest.  Thankfully the hotel provided an airport shuttle, and we felt confident - since it was called an "airport shuttle" - that the driver would know his way to the airport.  He did!  Okay, we are off to a good start.

Once at the airport, we knew we'd have several hours to kill, at best we'd get a seat on the 'stand-by' flight at 4:45 and get out a little earlier, but that still left time to waste.  So we wandered a bit, did some airport mall shopping (no, not overpriced AT ALL), crept through the inspection line once or twice for 'fresh air' and sat down for a lunchtime snack.  In the sports bar where we dined, I noticed the NFL game between my beloved Cardinals and the Patriots.  The game was being played in New England, and my eyes grew to the size of plates when I got my first glimpse of the game.  You see, if you watched that game, you know it was played in a blizzard!  As I watched, I thought to myself..."what the f*** are we flying into?!?!"  If we fly at all.

Much to my surprise, the 'stand-by' actually paid off.  At the last moment, we were granted two seats on the earlier flight...which had been delayed by weather until after 5PM.  I immediately phoned home to my Dad who was in stand-by to pick us up.  We're on our way - and, at only a 2-hour flight, we'd get there long before he could arrive.  No matter, we were in the home stretch!!!

Our flight to Syracuse concluded without incident.  The travel time was well short enough that another damn dog and another wailing child did not dampen my spirits.  As a bonus, even our baggage arrived!  This day was going much better!

Here's where the karma kicks in.  Now, we knew - very well knew - that we were going back North in the dog days of winter...when any assortment of Mother Nature's wrath could descend.  So, after assembling our bags and finding a bench to wait for Pop, we took our first step outside for a, fresh hit us - IT WAS FREAKIN' COLD!  Like, insanely cold!  And windy!  I believe the thermometer said 20 below human.  Brrrr AND Grrrr....

Anyone who has ever travelled around the Syracuse / Watertown areas knows all too well of the anomaly known as 'lake effect snow' and how insane amounts of snow and chaos can show up here, only here, and nowhere else, for extended period of time - for no good meteorological reason.  I think there have even been blizzards through here in August.  Well, what we couldn't see from our curled up selves on the bench inside the terminal was this weather event is exactly what was unloading outside at this moment - in fact, all day.  And poor Dad was trying to drive through it to get us!

Oh yeah, 'karma.'  So, it is no secret that - since we have been in Arizona, I have made it my mission to mock and taunt everyone back in the north when it is snowy, cold and miserable there and sunny and warm in AZ.  Never miss a chance!  I suspect the thousand or so times I chided the weather discrepancies, it was all adding up.  And Mother Nature copped a karma squat on our unsuspecting heads.  I guess I'd better take the blame for this.

Having left Malone at around 5PM, poor Pop finally wheeled into Syracuse International Snowport after 10PM.  That's right - 5 hours to make a near 3 hour trip.  It was that bad.  And it wasn't getting any better.

We did our hugs and 'missed you' and set out to get home.  Um, did I mention it didn't get any better out there?  I regained my finely tuned wingman skills and let Dad take the wheel while I watched the road and other various wintery calamities that may be lurking around the next bend.  Funny, as we rolled on...there were times when, that road I was watching for him, just sort of - um - DISAPPEARED!  Yeah, what the...?  So much snowing and blowing, even an action film wouldn't go to this extreme to prove a point that it is freakin winter out here!  And, God Bless the man, Pop pushed on!  

At one point, there were no roads, reflectors, lights, humanity...nothing!  We slowed to a crawl for most of the trip, stopping once as my wife had become so petrified of traveling in this gobbledy-gook she looked like a statue and needed to stretch her atrophied muscles.  We were Northerners by stock and trade, we should still have the patience and resolve to get through this, right?  I knew from the moment we stepped out the door at the Syracuse airport exactly why we moved down south...and boy, was I missing it now!

Many cups of coffee and 5 more hours later (the trip to Hogansburg is usually only 2 1/2 hours, so it had gotten worse than when they came down) we pulled into our resting place for the week - my Mommy's place.  It was now 3AM eastern time!  Mom, being Mom, was still wide awake and waiting for us...and poor Dad still had to drive home in this slop to Malone.  Thanks a million Dad!!!  Poor guy...

So, there we were - a trip that had started almost two days earlier, finally - FINALLY - we made it 'home!'  It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Lest this string of three posts be misconstrued, I had A GREAT TIME at home for the holidays and it was so great to see everyone and spend time with everyone!  The joys and experiences will be posted in a separate blog at a later date.  I just wanted to share some travel tips and haunting images, lest ye be scared to make a voyage sometime to someplace....Because we all know it isn't about where you are going, it's all about the GETTIN THERE!

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